Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Popcorn and M&Ms for lunch

There's something about summer that makes it feel totally appropriate to swap my usual healthy lunch with a week's worth of sodium, saturated fat, and chocolate.

I felt only joy as I alternated nibbling between the too-salty, fake-butter-tasting popcorn and candy coated chocolatey treats. It didn't even bother me that I had swapped my scheduled workout and house cleaning with a spontaneous trip to the movies. If I can't be a tad bit irresponsible and unhealthy in the summer, when I'm home with my boys and my husband, then when can I?

Summer's been in full swing for...what?...almost 3 weeks now? (I refuse to keep track of summer days; it's my defense mechanism). We've spent a week out of town with a friend and her grand kids, been to Orlando for a night of drinking and dancing, been to Key West for a 2-night romantic getaway, been to the local water park twice with our kids and practically everyone else's, played at the local bounce house gym, and had so many pool and beach days that I'm sure our fingers will be permanently prune-y and wrinkled.

Before kids, our summers used to consist of very late nights and equally late mornings. We'd stay out 'til dawn or watch movies 'til 2. We'd rarely open our eyes before noon. Summers were lazy and indulgent.

Then we had Ben, and we spent one summer pregnant, uncomfortable, and anxiously holding our breath for his arrival in September. The following summer was spent trying to figure out how we could still have our beach-filled days with a one-year-old who needed two naps a day.

Just when we were getting our bearings, another summer came filled with pregnant expectations and apprehensions for our August baby.
Then, last summer, every trek to the beach was a comedy of errors: Aidan writhing and rolling off the towel as we tried to change his diaper, Ben wailing every time the salt water hit his eyes. And still, there were those darned scheduled naps.

This summer, there are still naps (well, only one), but our beach days are more fun than trouble. Aidan's rolling on the sand with his big brother more often than rolling off the towel during diaper changes. There are attempts at skimboarding on the shore. Sandcastles. Breakfast by the pool. Spontaneous trips to the movies.

The freedom of this summer is certainly worlds apart from the summers when we were two childless teachers living in a tiny townhouse with a tiny mortgage and a cleaning lady. But there is a new freedom to this summer as well. (And, I suspect, this is just a taste of the summers to come.)

As I watched the ending of "Toy Story 3" today in that dark movie theatre, our oldest son sitting between us, I was surprised by how much crying I did. (Caution: Spoiler alert!) I had been warned that the movie makes you appreciate how quickly time goes by. I had been told most moms (especially of boys) get at least a little teary as Andy gets ready for college. But I was not prepared for the flood of emotions I felt when his mom walks in to his bare room, when the grown-up Andy finds a new home for his beloved toys...and when I recognized the look on little Bonnie's face when she meets her "new" toys...a look of innocence and awe that can only be seen on the face of a small child...I really had to control myself, because at that point, I was not only crying the silent, private tears of a good movie ending, I was nearing full-out, noise-making, only-in-your-own-house sobbing.
What got me was the realization that that look...the look on little Bonnie's on display in my house practically every day. And yet, many days, I miss it (as I am sure so many of us do) because I'm too tired or too stressed or too busy wishing they'd grow up already.

So I didn't feel too guilty about my lunch of popcorn and chocolate. 'Cause I know that in a few years, the summers of learning life lessons from toys will be over, and the days of packing for college will be here. And I'm sure I'll have plenty of time for salads and workouts then...


  1. Such a beautiful post! I cried at Toy Story 3 also, as I watched with my boys.

    And, like you, remember that those moments of fun are going to be gone quicker than I think- so I'd rather indulge in doing special things with them now, while I can.

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  3. Aw Liz! This made me tear up - only because the thought of my son going off to college in three short years rips my heart out.

    Even with the spoiler alert I soooo want to see that movie. Emmmm? Can I borrow your kids for an afternoon? Pretty please? I promise to return them in one piece!

  4. LOVED what you had to say here. I went and saw Toy Story 3 last week also...and the same thing happened at the end. Not just tears...but full out sobbing, I even said out loud, "God, make it stop!" I was stunned because I'm typically the ice queen when it comes to movies. I don't cry at much -- and this animated piece of brilliant cinema did. Best of the series I thought, and should be a contender hands down for a best picture oscar. Just...WOW!

  5. I love this post. It is, however, exactly why I told the babysitter to take the girls to Toy Story 3. I definitely didn't need to sob in the theater.

  6. Gorgeous post Liz. Actually glad you did the spoiler alert otherwise I may have taken SC and sat there blubbing away myself - think we'll save it for DVD! It's true what they say - time passes so quickly. In three weeks time SC will be done with her first year of school and it only seems like 5 minutes ago I was packing her off for the first day. And Blubbing copious amounts! Time to be cherished - and it sounds like you're doing a great job of doing so! xxx

  7. I keep trying to write a coherent comment here, Liz, unsuccessfully. The gist of it is, as usual: yup. Been there, chickie. You say it well.

  8. You wrote it better than I ever could. I saw the movie with my boys--twice, in fact!--and those moments and looked caused me to sigh and swell with tears, but I couldn't even THINK about it long enough to put it into words. I had to move my brain along because I can't even take it these days...the pushing of time. Pressing on me and my boys. Making them grow. Making them bigger. For the first time in my mothering life I want it to stop right here, right now. I mean, no diapers would be a lovely thing, and 2 year olds who didn't throw their heads into the doors and the floorboards with every temper tantrum...but everything else? Just stop. I'm not ready for it to move forward anymore. And that's just not like me. I think it must be's really got me going this year.

  9. Sweet Post. My kids said it was a great movie. This comment coming from teens who decided to see it on their own. Each stage of having kids has its tender moments, enjoy all of them!

    Next date night you two should see Knight and Day or definitely see it on DVD.

  10. Awww...and now, I'm a little teary eyed...
    As always, I love reading you because your boys are just a little ahead of time, and you remind me that the frustrations of the day to day with little-littles are so fleeting. I was just thinking the other day, "Next summer, we'll be able to do XYZ because it won't be so hard with naps and tantrums." But like you, I also get sad realizing that I miss out on the wonder of a toddler because I'm wishing for the next phase. Thank you for this lovely post.

  11. I cried too. I am a new follower of your blog, thanks to Simone.

  12. Hi Liz!

    Sorry I haven't visited for way too long....I have been pc-less, still am actually, but am making do....have missed your posts :) I have a lot to catch up on!

    Hope you are well....your summer sounds wonderful.....I loved reading about how your summers have evolved and changed over the last few years. This summer when we go away, it will be the first summer for many that we won't be taking a strollers - and the first without nappies (diapers) come to think of it!!

    I haven't yet seen "Toy Story 3" - I think it's out here next week - but I have heard lots of people (mothers!) say that they cried at it!! What you had to say made me a little teary - I hate to think what the movie will do to me!!

    I will be away for a few weeks in August and am asking a select few people if they would like to guest-post on my blog. You know I am a fan of your writing and I wondered if you might be interested? Don't feel you have to say yes but I would love it if you did :) Let me know....thanks honey :)

  13. That movie got me too...I was a total puddle. I think you're's not only Andy leaving, but Bonnie's face and all of that innocence!! Popcorns and M&Ms indeed.

  14. Oh yeah. Total tear jerker. I prefer my popcorn with hot sauce, but I totally agree with the sentiment.

  15. Now I am definitely NOT going to see Toy Story 3. I cry hard enough at the end of Winnie-the-Pooh, when Christopher Robin leaves. It kills me.


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